BOTETOURT – Both Botetourt County schools will be on the mats this weekend when Staunton River High School plays host to the “River Rumble” wrestling tournament.
The Rumble includes 16 schools and opens Friday night at 6 pm. It picks up again Saturday morning at 9:30 am goes until the conclusion. It will be the season opening event for both the Lord Botetourt and James River teams.
Overall LB had 31 wrestlers make the roster after cuts last week. The Cavs have 16 wrestlers with significant varsity experience returning and most are only sophomores, giving LB a full lineup with some weight classes being contested by four or five wrestlers. In addition to Jeb Wright, who is in his third year, Matt Fischer and KB Rogers have been added to the coaching staff. Both are former LB wrestlers and both bring tradition and excellence into the program.
Captains are seniors Mike Jones and Matt Bower. Mike has been ranked 15th in the nation by the premier publication in the sport after finishing seconnd in state last year. He is currently being recruited by both Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. Bower, Taylor Keller, and Caleb Quinn are the other seasoned seniors who will provide strong leadership to the younger team members.
Botetourt returns varsity experience in 11 of 14 weight classes. Returnees Daniel Lloyd, Seth Carlton, Andrew Buchanon, Trey Markvart, Bryan Barnett and Jonathan Guessford lead a group that has worked hard in the off season and is ready to put LB wrestling back on the map. The heavyweights are solid with Jones, Aaron Gunter, and Brandon Winger returning.
“We are a little light on the lightweights but we have some good looking freshmen and two out of state transfers that will be very competitive,” said coach Robert Haynie. “We are young, we have numbers, we have three great young coaches, and we have solid senior leadership.”
Once again the Blue Ridge District should be competitive, and adding Rockbridge County will make it even tougher.
“Our schedule has gotten much tougher with the addition of Rockbridge County to the BRD,” said Haynie. “Staunton River has built themselves into perennial Region III and state contenders and Northside and Alleghany are extremely well coached and always a threat. William Byrd recently hired Ryan Broughman, a former LB State champ who still owns LB’s overall wins record, but we’re up for the challenge and I’m anxious to see what they can do when the rubber hits the road at Staunton River.”
James River should be a force in Group A once again with a young but talented team. The Knights lost state champ Jonathan Falls as well as state contenders KW King, Dylan Newcomb, and Dylan Johnson.
“We are young,” said coach Tim Jennings. “We have several key kids back, but that was a pretty good senior group, even if it was only four kids.”
Returnees include Michael Lancenese, Luke Arney, Trey Bruffey, Kyle King, Creek Turner, Owen Deacon and Ian Batterson. Kyle and Owen are returning state medalists, and Ian was a state qualifier. Luke and Trey were both one match away from qualifying last year.
“We should be okay, our district will be a much tighter this year because Parry McCluer didn’t really lose anyone and Region C is pretty touch as well,” said Jennings. “Floyd(Region C member) finished second last year and didn’t lose anyone either.”
Jennings feels he has some kids who can do well with the opportunity presented.
“Michael Lancenese is a senior, but has always been in a tough weight class where there were at least one or more wrestlers on the team and he wasn’t able to start. I’m hoping he’ll be able to step up and do well this year.”
The Knights will surely get a good idea of what they have this weekend in a very strong field at the River Rumble.
“We wrestle a really tough schedule, so by the time we get to district, we should be good-to-go,” said Jennings.